Buy a real-life story, guv?

Funny how quickly national relief at the safe release of the Navy and Marines personnel after the Iranian kidnapping has soured in the face of Mammon and his bosom mate, Instant Celebrity (two unsavoury gods of modern society that often go together) rearing their ugly heads. Yes, thanks, I will sell you my shocking true story that was so traumatic to me and my family I have to demand a six figure sum to tell it to commercial TV and one of the most odious of Murdoch’s red-top tabloid rags. The Scum paper treated the Fay Turney’s story with the respect it deserved, splashing huge bold type on the front page with the words “rape” and “knickers” prominently displayed. I wanted to tell my story, she whined – well, Faye, well done for taking such a fine and upstanding way to do it and not just cashing in on the biggest offer from the most vulgar paper (and in this day of equality why is the media put more emphasis on the one woman in the group, both during and after their ordeal? Gee, I thought we were all equal now and women had struggled to be allowed into active front line service like this…). I see now the MOD has belatedly put a temporary ban on such story-selling (bit late) but really, is anyone over surprised by all of this?

Consider the society these young service folks are growing up in, one obsessed with tell-all exposes, instant celebrity whipped up by manufactured media frenzies (easier than making real programmes or doing real journalism) and the trappings of success and wealth. We have Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and others feeding this desire for anyone and everyone to demand fame while the press media fuel and feed this demand by doing articles and photospreads, true-life, inside story exclusives and more (then later on gleefully run ‘where are they now?’ items showing a 15-minute fame former celeb being denied entry to a posh nightclub). Everyone agrees this is all tasteless and awful and yet millions buy the papers and mags with these articles in them; just as the same bleating numpties yelled how horrid it was the media hounded Princess Diana literally to death and ignored the fact that media jackal pack only did so because those same outraged citizens bought and read this crap by the barrel.

It does make you wonder where we are going though when even serving forces personnel are allowed to do this sort of thing (write an Andy McNab style book after you leave the forces, fine, that’s your call, but while you are on duty and comrades are dying in the field?). What next? OK, Grazia, Heat and other dreadful publications running centre spreads on who you should know in the Navy this season, what the latest look is for the well-dressed hostage (grey suits have been done, darling). Maybe the broadsheets can get in on the act with a know-your-hostages wallchart, followed by a know-your true-life-story’s-worth wallchart. Meantime we can sit back and enjoy I’m a Royal navy Sailor, Get Me Out of Here and Big Battalion. In fact why not go the whole hog and start using these other empty, dull endlessly repetitive on the same bloody theme reality shows where the winner becomes a singer in a West End show and the like? Strictly Come Soldiering or how about Any Air Force Will Do? This week’s lucky winner joins the celebrity-studded ranks of 15 Commando, Royal Marines!!

Maybe we can call up Davina to do her bit for the War On Terror (WOT?) effort, if she isn’t too busy trying to convince gullible women that she and her mum really love Garnier Nutrisse and often spend hours on the phone discussing their colouring regime (since her BB show is so full of crap wouldn’t it be more relevant for her to be advertising Arse Painting? Colour those cheeks with Davina’s new Arse Paints, girls, it’s the latest thing! Now available in desert cammo for the celebrity forces gal on the move!). Meantime the Iranians must be laughing their arse off at this whole pathetic farago and smeg knows what it all does to the moral of troops still out there or the relatives of troops who came home in body bags to be planted in the cold earth rather than to open checkbooks from media jackals (that includes you, Trevor McDonald – you used to be one of our quality broadcasters, but with your show taking part in this I’m thinking I won’t bother watching your show again since I am likely to be watching people you paid to appear). You guys wanted to tell your story? That’s fine. Start a blog. You want to make thousands out of an ordeal like this while your comrades are still in the firing line? Bugger off.

The Rockford Files in Iraq

I was somewhat taken aback when I saw Jay Garner arriving to the new dictator – Sorry, new interim leader of Iraq. That is, of course, nothing like being a colonial overlord governor-general (although he is indeed a general), because America does not and never has believed in colonialism (except for the Philippines, Cuba, Hawaii and countless spots of military of commercial significance around the world, many borrowed from the former British Empire). This is certainly a good way for us to show the Iraqi people who we fought a war to liberate them and give them our wonderful gifts of liberal democracy for the people, by the people and of the people. Just not those people.

Up until now, however, I thought this might be okay – that this J. Garner might be good in the short term. Then I realised today I had misheard Jay Garner for J. Garner. I thought we were talking about the esteemed actor James Garner. I thought the man who shone in The Great Escape, the man who was Maverick would be able to sort things out. Jim Rockford would know what to do and would always sort out the bad guys. Then I discovered that it wasn’t James Garner at all and some bloody retired general. That is a particularly sensitive move – pick not a diplomat or a UN representative but a US general.

Great. Couldnt we at least have some advisory council to work with him composed of actual Iraqi people from a cross-section of their society? Then we may at least have a fig-leaf of pretence that we are not imposing rule at the force of a gun on that shattered country. That sort of thing is not only immoral and illegal (much like the war itself) but makes an utter mockery of the supposed (and rather belatedly voiced) reason for the damned war.


So it’s all over – the newspapers and other media are all proclaiming victory in Iraq. A little presumptuous considering that there are still firefights going on and no-one knows where Saddam is. Hopefully the allies won’t end up with another Afghanistan on their hands where they can’t find the top folk of the regime after the dust settles.

And what a stunning victory it is as our brave boys valiantly overthrow the evil regime to ‘liberate’ the poor wee folk in Iraq. That would sit a little more easily with me if it wasn’t for the fact that our leaders kept changing the reasons why they were so bloody determined to have this seedy little war so many times over the last few months. You’ll note that the noble aim of liberating an oppressed people – which they clearly were – was a justification only added in the very last weeks before the bombs started. Nobility may be something the men and women of our armed forces can display but not I fear our political masters. When applying the term to them I advise prefacing the word ‘nobility’ with the letter ‘k’.


I made the mistake of reading a discarded Metro on the bus this morning. I’m sure many of you saw it, an image designed to go right pass all our cynical armour and go straight for the jugular of the emotions, the picture of the wee Iraqi lad who lost both arms in a raid. Lost both his arms, his mum, his dad, his sisters and brothers, his home… This is obviously some strange usage of the world ‘liberation’ that I haven’t come across before. Still, he is alive, so I guess that’s what our enlightened leaders would call a surgical strike. Was this a calculated bit of media to get a reaction from us, running this pic and story? Yes. Did it work. Yes. I think I preferred it when they were shooting themselves. Speaking of which, isn’t it against the Geneva Convention to bomb John Simpson? I’m sure there is a special article relating to John Simpson in war zones.